Game: Mazatlán Fútbol Club vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Saturday, January 8th
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.) Mexican state abbreviations available here
Referees: REF: César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos, AR1: Pablo Israel Hernández Luna, AR2: Manuel Alfonso Martinez Sanchez, 4TH: Gustavo Padilla Aguirre, VAR: Daniel Quintero Huitrón, AVAR: Alberto Morín Méndez
All-time record: Santos and Mazatlán have met five times before, with Santos winning three to Mazatlán’s one, with the club playing to one draw. The last time they met, Santos won 3-0 in Torreón in October thanks to a brace from Javier Correa and a penalty goal from Fernando Gorriarán. The last match they played against one another in Mazatlán ended with the home team getting a 1-0 win at Estadio El Kraken on April 19, 2022 on a Gonzalo Sosa goal in the 37th minute.
After stumbling in their season opener against Tigres, Santos came back with a vengeance, downing Pumas 3-0 on Saturday night. They’ll take that momentum on the road in their first trip of the season when they head to Mazatlán to face off against Los Cañoneros, who lost last week to Atlas in their only match of the season so far. Their first game of the season against León had to be postponed until March after civil unrest broke out in the Mexican state of Sinaloa “in apparent response to the arrest of cartel leader Ovidio Guzman,” son of notorious Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Santos looked good for the majority of both games they’ve played so far, a poor stretch in the second half of the game against Tigres notwithstanding. That poor stretch was accelerated by the sending off of Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre, who is available once again for selection after serving his red card suspension during the match against Pumas. The club did however report that Aguirre underwent surgery for a herniated disc at Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado on Thursday, and no recovery timetable was reported.
Santos however has looked decent enough in the attack, at least at even strength. Diego Medina had a brace in the match against Pumas, and even against Tigres Medina, Juan Brunetta, and Harold Preciado all made their presence felt upfield. Santos seems to be settling into a similar rhythm to the one that lead them to the Liguilla last December.
Mazatlán meanwhile hasn’t been able to settle into any rhythm. After the first match was postponed, they were beaten 2-1 by Atlas last week in Guadalajara. Nicolás Benedetti netted the only goal for Los Cañoneros, knocking in a rebound Atlas couldn’t clear out of the six-yard box in the 84th minute, giving Mazatlán a glimmer of hope. But it wasn’t to be.
Mazatlán will be without goalkeeper Nicolás Vikonis, who suffered an injury to his right hamstring in preseason training. While no timetable was given for his return, it was listed as a Grade 1 injury, the most severe and Vikonis was not in the lineup against Atlas. They will also be without midfielder Eduard Bello, who missed the Atlas match injured. Mazatlán did however announce the arrival of Francisco “Paco” Venegas from Tigres on Wednesday, however he too was left off of the club’s convocatoria.
Santos has historically not done well away from the friendly confines of TSM. Mazatlán however aside from living up to their pirate imagery as a motley crew of misfits, is missing some of their best players. They will also have the added pressure of having all eyes on them as they return to El Kraken for the first time following the cancellation of the first match, Both teams will seek to put recent history to rest and focus on the present, fighting for three important points that could have wider implications on their respective futures.